Anyone who has taken a vacation knows that less stress feels good. It works the other way, too: feeling good can reduce your stress and improve your health. “Most people don’t realize that stress has objective physiological effects,” Dr. Sarah Pressman says, including effects that are linked to disease processes, severity and even survival. “Fortunately, positive emotions can be powerful buffers against these negative stress impacts, and we want to understand this process more clearly.”
In particular, no one has identified the specific “good” emotions that are most helpful in a given context. Dr. Pressman is bringing needed precision to the field, in order to understand the protective qualities of happiness and unravel the body’s mechanisms responsible for their downstream effects.